Now it's official: Landon Donovan is back.
The US soccer icon ended his brief retirement with a brief substitute appearance in the LA Galaxy's 4-2 win over Orlando City SC at StubHub Center on Sunday, replacing Raul Mendiola in the 83rd minute to log his 335th MLS regular-season game.
It marked his first competitive match since MLS Cup 2014, when he helped the Galaxy defeat the New England Revolution to win their fifth league title, and the sixth of his career.
With Galaxy Designated Player Giovani dos Santos now in possession of his old No. 10 shirt, Donovan has elected to wear No. 26 on his return, a nod to the digits he wore as a teenager with Bayer Leverkusen as well as the date of his son Talon's birth.
With LA comfortably ahead 4-1 when he came on, Donovan didn't have too much to do in his cameo aside from tracking back diligently on defense. His only items on the stats sheet: He completed two of four passes.
But his hometown crowd was eager to see him, having greeted his return with a host of supportive signs and banners. And after waiting restlessly throughout the second half for him to appear, they greeted his entry with a roar that will live long in the memory.